New Startup Formation Data Systems is Attempting to Redefine Enterprise Storage
Earlier this month I was briefed by a new startup called Formation Data Systems. Formation Data Systems is being led by Mark Lewis a former EMC Executive VP and he has with him a strong team of executives previously from industry leading companies. The vision of this company is to redefine the enterprise storage market by fundamentally shifting to a software-defined hyper-scale storage platform through a software platform called FormationOne. The basic idea is that future on-premises storage will first and foremost be compatible with and be architected similar to the public clouds counterparts namely AWS S3. The product will be sold using a data-as-a-service subscription model with all-in-one pricing that includes a rich set of features and white-glove support. Formation Data Systems will back this model with a best price guarantee. The aim is to turn storage into a self-service portal with multiple tiers of service levels which allows IT to focus on setting the high level service policies that are dynamically enforced for their internal customers.
There are other companies that are betting on a similar vision as to the future of on-premises storage. What makes Formation Data unique in their approach is they understand that this is going to be a transformational journey, therefore as they fundamentally redefined a modern storage core architecture for the hyper-scale future, they have also been very pragmatic on including legacy application compatibility. They accomplish this by staying hardware agnostic and is deployed on commodity server hardware and in the future being deployed directly into a public cloud. They expose their core underling data-services layer with through public APIs and then build connectors on top of that makes their platform compatible with legacy applications. Example connectors would be S3 Object, Block, NFS File and HDFS. Formation Data Systems is building a library of connectors and is planning to enable a rich ecosystem of partners to help develop fully featured connectors along with working with key application providers to interface directly to their core data-service APIs.
Fundamentally I think Formation Data Systems is onto something. I believe for the foreseeable future enterprise data centers will be centered on two types of storage technology approaches. Firstly, all flash arrays focused on SLA driven quality of service will dominate the tier-1 legacy environments. Secondly, a distributed scale-out storage architecture with public cloud ease-of-use will dominate for both legacy tier-2 applications and the newer born-in-the-cloud application suites. Over time many legacy applications will be modernized to operate in this new hyper-scale globally dispersed reality we are in. Formation Data Services promises to be very competitive with public cloud pricing which will be music to the ears of many enterprises that still require on-premises control for their precious data assets.
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